Fractions can be a tricky concept to grasp, not just for kids, but also for adults. Even if you’re a mathematical whiz, the abstract nature of fractions can still pose a challenge. But fear not, I have some tips that’ll make teaching fractions a breeze! By utilizing innovative methods, such as modeling and utilizing resources, we can help our students understand fractions more easily. In this post, I’ve compiled five tips that’ll help you teach fractions more effectively and make it a fun (and meaningful) experience for both you and your students.
Tip #1: Connect Fractions to the World
Before we get started, remember to check your standards and understand what you’re expected to teach your students. This will help you pace your lessons and be better prepared for any challenges that may come your way while teaching fractions.
Once you’ve got that down, it’s time to learn more about the community you teach in. Connecting fractions to local shops, maps, and pricing in your district can help your students better understand how fractions work in their everyday lives.
And of course, let’s not forget about getting to know your students!
Learning about their families, culture, and interests can help you create problems that are more relevant to their lives. By incorporating interests, you’ll help them better connect with academic language and make learning more meaningful.
For example, if you have a student from a South Asian country, you might create a problem based on creating kurtas (if you know that’s a part of their culture).
I love using games while teaching fractions too! You can learn about the benefits of playing games in this post.
To sum it up, by connecting fractions to the real world and your students’ lives, you’ll make math more engaging and relatable for everyone!
Tip #2: Integrate Literacy While Teaching Fractions!
Integrating literacy with math is a fantastic way to help your students better understand abstract concepts. When introducing fractions, I recommend reading fiction and non-fiction books. These give your students the background knowledge they need to make sense of it all.
If you’re looking for some great book recommendations for teaching fractions, check out these:
Another fun idea is to have your students create poems about fractions. This not only helps them understand abstract ideas, but it also allows for some creative fun! You can make shape poems using pizza or brownies, haikus about fractions, acrostic poems about numerators, and more.
And last but not least, have your students create a story problem involving fractions. Use these stories to assess their mastery of fractions and see if they can connect them to the real world and use correct vocabulary. Did they accurately explain their thinking? This is a great way to help your students express their understanding of fractions in a creative and engaging way.
Tip #3: Teach Students How to Use Helpful References!
When working with fractions, it’s super helpful to show your students how to use benchmark fractions and multiplication charts to check their work. Doing this will give your students an extra tool to help them solve problems more confidently and prove their work.
It’s important to teach your usual strategies for solving problems, but using these helpful references can make all the difference in your student’s understanding of the concept. They help students prove their work. So go ahead and show your students how to use benchmark fractions and multiplication charts, and watch their confidence in working with fractions soar!
Tip #4: Write Openly About Fractions!
Sometimes, teachers give students problems that tell them which tool to use, but this can limit their understanding of the concept. Instead, remove the suggested tool and encourage your students to write about how they compare the two fractions. This will help you understand their thinking process and better tailor your lessons to their needs.
I love to use this Editable Choice Board for creating my own writing prompts for students to write about math.
Another great open-writing prompt is to have your students write a letter to a friend explaining how to solve a problem involving fractions. Instead of just asking them to explain how they found an equivalent fraction, challenge them to teach each part of the process to their friend.
And lastly, ask your students to defend or debate model problems. This is a great way to reinforce the idea that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process and that there are many ways to solve problems. Doing this will take the pressure off your students and give them the freedom to solve problems in a way that makes sense to them.
Tip #5: Confer With Your Students
Math conferences are an amazing way to check in with your students during your math block, whether they’re working independently or engaged in math centers. These conferences take no more than five minutes per student and are super easy to facilitate.
All you need is a journal and a pen! Simply ask your students to share their math journals or notebooks. If you don’t use those, ask them to show you what they’re working on in math. Listen to them explain their work. While they’re explaining, listen for accurate use of vocabulary, misconceptions they may have, and answer any questions they may have. This will help you get an overall sense of their mastery.
After listening, take a moment to reinforce anything positive you observed by verbally praising them. Encourage the student to share what they did well with the class at the end of the math block. Most students will be thrilled to share, which helps build a positive classroom environment. Use this conference as a quick assessment tool to hold your students accountable and strengthen your mathematical conversations.
Learn more about how I conduct student conferences in this post.
In this post, I’ve compiled five tips for teaching fractions effectively and making it a fun experience for you and your students. From connecting fractions to the real world and integrating literacy to teaching students how to use helpful references and writing openly about fractions, I’ve got you covered.
One of my favorite tips is holding math conferences with your students. These conferences are a quick and easy way to assess their understanding, hold them accountable, and strengthen math discourse. Plus, they’re a great opportunity to give your students a well-deserved pat on the back and reinforce their positive efforts.
By following these tips and making math fun and relatable, you’ll help your students understand fractions with greater ease and confidence. So go ahead and give it a try – your students (and your own inner math whiz) will thank you!